I Heard the Bells…

There are some things that just affect me deeply, as there are for everyone.  One of those “things” is my deep love and respect for the men and women in our Military.  These men and women serve our country honorably, with much sacrifice, tirelessly, in danger and with enthusiasm.  I am grateful.

My family has many members with past and present service to our country, who resolved to defend Her from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I could not serve because of an irreparable knee injury.

I try my best to tell every member of the Military I meet in public “Thank you for serving.”  When I can, I try to do more, little though that is.  I understand, to my marrow, that they give up a measure of liberty and freedom in order to preserve mine.

These men and women are my choice for “Person of the Year 2009”.

You have my undying devotion, my ceaseless prayers for your safety, my constant prayers for the wisdom of your commanders and my endless respect.  I pray for the successful and honorable conclusion to both conflicts you are now engaged in.  I pray that we have victory.

And now for the bells.

Certain poems also affect me deeply.  There aren’t many, but a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Christmas Bells”, is one such poem.  Written in 1864, towards the end of the Civil War, this poem was confirmation of Longfellow’s faith and acknowledgement of the terrible grief he felt over the loss of his wife and the crippling wounds of his son.

Some have said this is an anti-war poem.  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so at all.  Like many wars, the Civil War had to be fought.  By the time the violent clashes had begun, our less than a century old country was far beyond any other solution.  We had progressed beyond negotiations, there was going to be no satisfactory solution short of war.  Maybe the war could have been prevented, but that prevention had to have happened at the Constitutional Congress 70 years earlier and it didn’t.  After that, the board was set and the pieces moved to conclusion.

Thing is, once war is upon you, it’s too late to wish the past had been different.  You must either fight for right or roll over and surrender.

A fuller story of the poem is here.  The entire poem is below, in the original order.  The version of the song I prefer is on Blues for a Child.

This poem is reproduced here in honor of my choice of “Person of the Year”, the Men and Women of the United States of America’s Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.  Thank you!

The Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

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One Response to I Heard the Bells…

  1. Nancy says:

    Thanks for that poem, Vivian Louise. I’d heard of it but never read it before and I agree with you. I don’t think it’s anti-war.

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